The Autism Science Foundation Weekly Science Podcast is a summary of the latest research in autism spectrum disorders. This podcast will discuss new science, research discoveries, meetings and discussions, news reports, and other information important to those affected by autism especially families.
What causes autism? Genetics or the Environment? Or maybe both?
Is it genes or is it the environment? or is it a combination? This question has plagued researchers and scientists and caused a lot of confusion in families about what caused their own or their child’s ASD. This week we review the mechanisms by which de-novo mutations could be the work of gene x environment interactions, and share new evidence of how SSRI’s do or don’t contribute to ASD through gene x environment interactions. We also want to recognize the valuable work of scientist Li-Ching Lee to these efforts. Dr. Lee recently passed away but will be sorely missed.
Why would you not get vaccinated?
There have been a lot of questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially now that it is being offered to everyone 12 and up. At first it was restricted to the elderly, now other groups are eligible. But not everyone wants the vaccine and in fact about 30% of Americans either refuse or have serious questions about it. On this week’s ASF podcast, we interview Dr. Pam Feliciano of SPARK to find out what families affected with ASD think of the vaccine, and answer other questions around the safety of the vaccine vs. the risks of getting COVID. Below is a new article about mortality of COVID in people with ASD.
Eye gaze and real-life early detection tools: An interview with researchers from Duke
What babies look at during development and how much time they spend looking at people vs things has received a lot of criticism from some advocates who feel scientists should be spending less time on differences and more on practical solutions. Those two concepts are getting closer and closer and our early understandings of early autism features are now turning into applications to help better and earlier identification of ASD. This week, we talk to Geri Dawson and George Chang at Duke University who used these findings to piloted an app on an iPad. This app shows early promise of being used in a pediatricians office to support faster referral of toddlers for services and intervention.
A genetic first approach to subtypes?
What causes some of the differences across people with autism? Can you predict who will have what features of autism by looking first at genetics? This week’s ASFpodcast is the first 20 minutes of a webinar with Samuel Chawner from Cardiff University that explains his findings about behavioral features across people with autism with difference in genetic makeup. The full webinar with video can be found here but you can listen to the presentation this week. There will also be more research on this topic.
You asked, we answered: what is the connection between the ‘gut’ and the brain?
On this week’s podcast, we answer your question: “what’s the evidence of a gut-brain connection”? We can’t answer that question without starting off with a description of the microbiome. The microbiome is the colony of organisms in your gastrointestinal system that is showing increasing evidence of influencing brain function. We asked three experts: Calliope Holingue from JHSPH, Helen Vuong from UCLA and Stewart Campbell of Axial Therapeutics what is happening in research around the microbiome in autism, and what therapeutics are being developed to help those with GI issues and ASD.
The 2021 Day of Learning Quickie
If you missed this year’s Day of Learning, the videos will be up soon. But if you are a podcast listener, you can listen a 20 minute recap on this week’s podcast. The topics included the effects of the pandemic on family functioning and clinician diagnosis and assessments, lessons learned through the pandemic, the role of the social justice movement in autism, personalized medicine, an explanation of SUDEP, short for sudden unexplained death in epilepsy, and new information on CBD or cannabidiol. It’s not a substitute for watching it live and being able to ask questions of the speakers, but it touches on the main themes.